Editor's Note: This is part 2 of Ben's story. You can read part 1 HERE.
These are the top 13 healthy travel food items I grab at a grocery store to make quick meals while I'm traveling.
Healthy Travel Food #7: Yogurt---Follow the same rules as cheese: if you are lactose intolerant, substitute soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Fat-free, plain yogurt is useful as a low-calorie topping for a wrap, good with fruit and nuts for breakfast, and versatile enough to be used with almond butter and dark chocolate for dessert.
Healthy Travel Food #8: Almond---Butter Compared to peanut butter, almond butter is higher in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and lower in potentially inflammatory omega 6¹s. For this ingredient, I typically buy less than I think I need, because it is easy to eat too many calories from almond butter. Use with breakfasts and desserts, as mentioned earlier.
Healthy Travel Food #9: Cashews / Walnuts / Almonds---I typically mix these with fruit and yogurt for breakfast, toss into a wrap for extra calories and crunch, or grab a handful to satiate the appetite in the afternoon. Go for the unsalted, raw, unroasted option.
Healthy Travel Food #10: Salad Dressing---Perfect for salads and wraps, a salad dressing is a smart choice only if you can find a variety with A) an olive oil base; and B) no high fructose corn syrup and added sugars. Look along the top of the salad dressing shelf for the smaller designer varieties, which will more often fit these criteria. In a pinch, just grab a small container of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette instead.
Healthy Travel Food #11: Sweet Potatoes / Yams---If my travel involves physical activity, such as cycling, large amounts of walking, or a triathlon, then these tubers form the crux of my carbohydrate intake, since they "burn clean" and also have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and beta-carotene. In a pinch, they can be microwaved for 5 minutes, but it is better to boil them for 20 minutes or bake for 40 minutes. Usually, I will salt and eat them plain or serve them with almond butter and honey.
Healthy Travel Food #12: Fruit----If I am traveling to a new or unique region, I usually experiment with varieties of fruit that are hard to get at home, in Washington state. For example, in Florida, I might stock up on juicy oranges and grapefruit; in Hawaii, stock up on fresh papaya or pineapple; and in Thailand, grab a handful of dragonfruit. Fruit is perfect for a mid-morning snack, salad topping, or breakfast addition.
Healthy Travel Food #13: Dark Chocolate--Chock full of antioxidants and lower in sugars and dairy than milk chocolate, a 70%+ dark chocolate bar is a good nightcap snack after a long day of travel, and is also useful for sweetening oatmeal, breaking chunks into yogurt, or dipping in almond butter. I keep mine in the freezer.
To wrap it up (no pun intended), I very often eat a primary diet of wraps and salads while traveling, supplemented with fruits, nuts, potatoes, yogurt or milk based snacks. You¹d be surprised at how healthy you can eat and how good meals can taste by simply using the 13 healthy travel foods listed above. If you want just a little extra flavor, grab salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon. These four spices can really dress up any of the meals discussed in this article. Finally, if you hadn't noticed, any of these healthy travel foods can be perfect for you to eat in the comfort of your own home too.
Finally, if you want more information about why you need to be careful to eat the right foods when you're fueling your body with the thousands of calories necessary for triathlon, visit: http://pacificfit.net/items/holistic-fueling-for-endurance-athletes/
Ben Greenfield is a triathlon coach and sports nutritionist at www.pacificfit.net.